The human DAZ genes, a putative male infertility factor on the Y Chromosome, are highly polymorphic in the DAZ repeat regions
The DAZ genes on the human Y Chromosome (Chr) are strong candidates for the azoospermia factor AZF. They are frequently deleted in azoospermic or severely oligospermic males and are expressed exclusively in germ cells. In addition, the DAZ genes share a high degree of similarity with a Drosophila male infertility gene, boule. The predicted DAZ proteins contain an RNA recognition motif (RRM), and multiple copies of a repeat (the DAZ repeat) in tandem array. To understand the DAZ gene family and its expression, the DAZ genomic structure and RNA transcripts in numerous males, as well as several DAZ cDNA clones were analyzed. The results of genomic Southern blot showed that each male contains multiple DAZ genes with varying numbers of DAZ repeats, and that the copy number of the DAZ repeats are polymorphic in the population. The presence of multiple species of DAZ transcripts with different copy number and arrangement of the DAZ repeats in an individual suggests that more than one DAZ gene are transcribed. The existence of multiple functional DAZ genes complicates the analysis of genotype/phenotype correlations among males with varying sperm counts.